Friday, February 24, 2006

Another Coconut Cornbread

I am always bewildered when I hear people complain about cooking for folks observing special diets. The truth is I love cooking to accommodate people’s restrictions. I hope that doesn’t make it sound like I would in a million years wish any kind of restriction on anybody heaven forbid, but here we are, fragile, edible, organic creatures ourselves, and we’re doing the best we can.

What I have found is that more restrictions I need to observe, the more wildly creative energy goes into the recipe. Some of you already know that I have a special fondness for the Jewish holiday of Peysekh (Passover), a time of year when we are “allowed to go crazy” to quote one rabbi of my acquaintance, with regard to the intensity of our efforts. There are many recipes I am delighted to use all year that I would never have dreamed up if not for the many restrictions of the Peysekh season, which is coming, I am just saying, much sooner than any of us think.

Which brings me to this recipe. I have been baking lots of cornbread lately—all minor variations of this one, but I thought this particular recipe might interest you. It’s for a bunch of folks who, when you add them all together, avoid wheat, milk, nuts, sugar, eggs, soy, and yeast. Who’d have guessed it turns out that you can make cornbread without any of those things. Life is good.

Coconut Cornbread with Kabocha and Amaranth

3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups Iroquois white corn flour or other cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
12 ounces coconut milk
2 tablespoons cooked whole grain amaranth
¼ cup cooked orange sweet potato or cooked winter squash such as kabocha
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bamboo honey, buckwheat honey or other darkish honey.
½ cup corn kernels, optional (I will allow frozen in this case)

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt the coconut oil in a small (eight or nine inch) cast iron skillet or other baking pan. Mix together cornmeal and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Place coconut milk, cooked amaranth, cooked sweet potato or squash, salt and honey into a blender or processor and blend very thoroughly.

Make a well in the center of the cornmeal. Pour in the liquid ingredients and mix gently.

Add almost all the corn kernels if you are using them, and combine. I saved a few to sprinkle on top. Pour in the hot coconut oil and mix quickly. Pour the batter back into the skillet, and sprinkle a few reserved corn kernels on top, if desired. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden around the edges and firm in the center.

I got my cast iron cookware and wooden spoons from the Lehman’s non-electric catalog. They do have a website to accommodate their non-Amish clients. Be careful; once you look at this site, you will realize that you have always wanted to grind coffee by hand, and that’s just the beginning.

About those oven temperatures, I should probably admit that last year, in a frenzy of Peysekh cleaning, I scrubbed the numbers off the dial. I have a thermometer, and I marked the spot that most reliably gets the oven to 350, and on either side of that, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.

I learned about adding the pureed cooked amaranth to bind the batter from a very talented chef when I was baking at a vegan restaurant. Lots of stories.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Northernmost Jew said...

Coconut cornbread sounds great! I love cornbread (spread with a mixture of honey and butter) and almost anything is better with coconut added. I don't think I can get many of those ingredients, thoughwhere I live (a remote Eskimo village).

2:43 PM  
Anonymous countrymouse said...

I like that philosophy as far as accomodating particular dietary restrictions.
It wasn't finding creative ways of cooking required of the dietary restrictions, but rather the huge number of permutations thereof that i found vexing. If 7 out of the 13 vegans on the commune couldn't eat gluten and two were sensative to nightshades - then woe be it to the other six who wouldn't mind some wheat or a tomato once in a while (or the non-vegans who were also bad with nightshades but good with animal products). It sort of defeated the whole "economy of scale" principle that was generally at work, but there wasn't much to be done about it, so it is really better to think of it as inspiration rather than difficulty.

One of the vegan, gluten-free communards makes a zine about vegan, gluten-free baking - the first in the series was "vegan, gluten-free baking for pirates" and the second "vegan, gluten-free baking for guns n' roses". The recipies are actually serious though. Was the food zine the predecessor to the food blog? I can only imagine it was.

3:48 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady said...

Oh suffering succotash! I just wrote very thoughtful answers to both of you and deleted them! It is way too early for chocolate ladies to be up in the morning!

will try to reproduce answers later, too incensed.

4:48 AM  

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